Akani Simbine

Athlete Profile

  • COUNTRY
    South Africa South Africa
  • DATE OF BIRTH
    21 SEP 1993

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
100 Metres 9.89 +1.9 Székesfehérvár (Sóstói Stadion) 18 JUL 2016
200 Metres 19.95 +1.7 Pretoria (Tuks) 04 MAR 2017

Progression - Outdoor

100 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2017 9.92 +1.2 Pretoria (Tuks) 18 MAR
2016 9.89 +1.9 Székesfehérvár (Sóstói Stadion) 18 JUL
2015 9.97 0.0 Gwangju 09 JUL
2014 10.02 +1.4 Pretoria (ABSA) 12 APR
2013 10.36 +0.4 Kazan 07 JUL
2012 10.19 +1.3 Lusaka 11 DEC
2010 10.61 -0.1 Germiston 13 MAR

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2017 19.95 +1.7 Pretoria (Tuks) 04 MAR
2016 20.16 +0.7 Székesfehérvár (Sóstói Stadion) 18 JUL
2015 20.23 -0.4 Beijing (National Stadium) 25 AUG
2014 20.37 +0.5 Glasgow (Hampden Park) 31 JUL
2013 20.79 +0.7 Pretoria 09 MAR
2012 20.68 -1.9 Lusaka 12 DEC

Honours - 100 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
The XXXI Olympic Games 5 9.94 +0.2 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 14 AUG 2016
15th IAAF World Championships 4sf2 10.02 +0.9 Beijing (National Stadium) 23 AUG 2015
14th IAAF World Championships 7h3 10.38 -0.3 Moskva (Luzhniki) 10 AUG 2013

Honours - 200 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
15th IAAF World Championships 6sf1 20.37 +0.4 Beijing (National Stadium) 26 AUG 2015

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Compiled 23 July 2016

 

Akani SIMBINE South Africa (100m, 200m)

 

Born: September 21, 1993, Kempton Park, Gauteng

1.76m/74kg

Coach: Werner Prinsloo

Manager: Peet van Zyl

 

Long before he stormed to his 9.89sec personal best in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, in July, 2016, Akani Simbine first showed his true potential to the world at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

It wasn’t his fifth place in the 200m, but rather his performance in the 4x100m relay, anchoring South Africa to fourth place in a national record of 38.35sec.

Simbine displayed impressive speed as he made ground - or widened the gap - on every other anchor with the sole exception of Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt.

 

The relay is the closest to team sport that Simbine will get to. At school he chose athletics because he knew he could control his own destiny, unlike in team sports like football, where players are dependent on selectors.

“I was one of the young kids in the senior team in the Castle League (regional league). I always had my speed and I also played for my school team. The head of sports for my school team told me that I should try athletics and take it seriously because athletics could get me somewhere more than soccer, because soccer had a lot of politics and you had to know people to get into teams and in athletics you just have to run.

“He got me a coach but it was too far for me to travel all the way there and my parents said that wouldn't work. The day after that my father found an article in the newspaper about a coach inKempton Park, at Barnard Stadium, who was looking for athletes and he is a sprint coach.”

 

That coach was Werner Prinsloo, and Simbine has been training with him ever since, though the start was not easy.

“I went and ran some 60m... It was tough and I didn't want to go back but I decided to push it and started running at meets and started doing really well. I was running and still playing soccer and my parents were like 'You can't do both', I was enjoying soccer and athletics but I decided to swing more on the athletics side and things really started going well for me.”

 

At the end of 2012, at the Zone VI U20 Games in Lusaka, Simbine took both sprint crowns and set a national junior record in the 100m.

“That was when I decided for athletics,” he recalls. “I ran 10.19 and then I met with Peet (van Zyl, his manager) and he started telling me I could do something really big in athletics, and from there I started building on that and started taking training really seriously.”

 

Simbine went almost unnoticed at his first major international competition, at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, where he was eliminated in the semi-finals and was overshadowed by compatriot Anaso Jobodwana, who took the 100m and 200m double.

 

At the 2013 World Championships in Moscow soon afterwards, he ended seventh in his 100m heat. His most memorable moment, perhaps, was the advice he got from Jamaica’s Yohan Blake.

“He said I’m skinny, that I need to get stronger and bigger. I have gained muscle mass since then, so I guess I’ve taken his advice,” Simbine said soon after he smashed a 10.13sec personal best early in 2014 at the North Gauteng provincial championships.

That was in contrast to his 200m at the same meet, which he bungled.

“I was way too tense for the 200m,” he said at the time. “If I don’t speak to people before a race I freak out. I get really nervous.”

 

His coach, Werner Prinsloo, said Simbine was known as Mr Chill in their training group.

“Even If I’m chilled, I’m still shaking,” Simbine admitted. “On the blocks I’m shaking, but that goes once I start racing.”

 

Soon after that he went 10.02 at the national championships, finishing second behind Simon Magakwe, who went 9.98 to become the first South African to break 10 seconds over 100m.

Simbine would have to wait over a year before he would break that barrier.

He clocked 9.99sec in Velenje on 1 July 2015, and followed that up with a 9.97 on 9 July to win the 2015 World University Games crown in Gwangju.

 

That time equalled the South African record set just four days earlier by his then-housemate, Henricho Bruintjies, and the win was a big boost for Simbine’s budding career.

“Winning that was one of my biggest accomplishments, because I had never won a world title in anything and for me that was the first time I could say I was a world champion. Even if I was a world student champion, I was still a champion and that gave me the confidence I needed and showed me I could actually compete with the bigger names in the sport.”

 

At the World Championships in Beijing in 2015, Simbine advanced to the semi-finals in both the 100m and 200m, missing out on a spot in the 100m final by two positions after running a respectable 10.02.

The 4x100m relay, however, ended in disaster for Simbine’s team with the baton failing to get from Bruintjies to Jobodwana at the first handover.

 

Simbine started 2016 on fire as he stormed to a 9.96 in March to become the sole owner of the South African record.

He looked as if he was ready to do something special at the national championships in Stellenbosch in April when he cruised to victory in his semi-final in 10.06.

But in the final he suffered cramping that turned out to be a grade one hamstring strain. Even so, he still managed to finish second behind Bruintjies.

 

In May 2016, the amiable South African – who admitted being start struck when he ran his first Diamond League race in Lausanne in 2014 – was still displaying typical modesty. He told a group of international journalists visiting him as part of an IAAF project, “I'm a young guy and I consider myself a baby because I've only been running for the last 4 years or 5 years... I’m a baby and still learning but I am running well. The future for me if I stay disciplined is going to be bright.”

 

Simbine has been trying to improve his start — the weakest part of his race — and he still received useful tips from Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, during a brief training camp in Jamaica in June.

And then came his next breakthrough, clocking 9.89 as he beat Jamaican veteran Asafa Powell, American Mike Rodgers and evergreen Kim Collins in Hungary in mid-July.

“I was just shocked at the fact that I was first, I had beaten Powell. And then the time came out — 9.89 and I was like okay, this is shocking, this is great and it’s amazing. I was very happy and I was very shocked. I couldn’t believe it, but then at the same time I was happy.”

 

Simbine said he had incorporated 90% of the tips Mills had given him.

“The other 10% I can’t do it now because I have to do it over a long period of time.”

 

Mills had noticed he was not using his hamstrings enough at the start of his race

“He feels if I start using them then I will be able to put enough acceleration and power into the running,” Simbine said on his return from the camp."

“I never knew that I wasn’t using my hamstrings when I was running and just that little bit of information changes quite a lot because if I can actually activate my hamstrings more when I’m starting it means I can apply more power and speed.”

 

For much of his career, Simbine as depended heavily on his top-end speed. “Most times it’s always I go and everybody leaves me and then I just pull everybody back.

“Imagine if I could start with them!”

 

After his 9.89, even Simbine is imagining he can challenge for a medal in Rio.

“Now going into Rio in the shape that I’m in now I know that, if I run what I did … I can challenge for a medal. I can be up there.”

 

Simbine plans to implement the remainder of Mills’s advice after the Rio Olympics because that will require him taking four weeks off.

“If I can get that going and get the build-up to Tokyo 2020, the future looks bright.”

 

Personal Bests

100m — 9.89 NR (2016)

200m — 20.16 (2016)

 

Yearly Progression

100m: 2010 — 10.61A, 2011— 10.57A, 2012 — 10.19 NJR, 2013 — 10.36, 2014 — 10.02A, 2015 — 9.97 =NR, 2016 — 9.89 NR

200m: 2011 — 21.27A, 2012 — 20.68A, 2013 — 20.79A, 2014 — 20.37, 2015 — 20.23, 2016 — 20.16

 

Career Highlights

 

 

2010   5th        South African Youth Championships (200m)                          21.91

2011   3rd        South African Junior Championships, Germinston (100m)      10.71A

2011   6th        South African Junior Championships, Germinston (200m)      21.94A

2012   2nd       South African Junior Championships, Germiston (100m)         10.43A          

2012   3rd        South African Junior Championships, Germiston (200m)          21.42 

2012   7th        South African Championships, Port Elizabeth (100m)               10.69             

2012   1st        Zone VI U20 Games, Lusaka (100m)                                       10.19

2012   1st        Zone VI U20 Games, Lusaka (200m)                                       20.68

2013   2nd       South African U23 Championships, Pretoria (100m)                 10.48A

2013   1st        South African U23 Championships, Pretoria (200m)                 20.84A

2013   3rd        South African Championships, Stellenbosch (100m)                 10.63

2013   3rd        South African Championships, Stellenbosch (200m)                  20.90

2013   7h3     World Championships, Moscow (100m)                                       10.38

2014   2nd       South African Championships, Pretoria (100m)                         10.02 

2014   4sf3    Commonwealth Games, Glasgow (100m)                                    10.21

2014   5th      Commonwealth Games, Glasgow (200m)                                    20.37

2014   4th        Commonwealth Games, Glasgow (4x100m)                               38.35

2014   8th        African Championships, Marrakech (100m)                                13.14

2015   1st        South African Championships, Stellenbosch (100m)                    10.25

2015   1st        World Student Games, Gwangju (100m)                                      9.97

2015   4sf2    World Championships, Beijing (100m)                                          10.02

2015   6sf1    World Championships, Beijing (200m)                                          20.37

2016   2nd    South African Championships, Stellenbosch (100m)                      10.21

2016   3rd        African Championships (100m)                                                  10.05

2016   1st        African Championships (4x100m) Durban                                   38.84

 

Prepared by David Isaacson for the IAAF Focus on Athletes project. Copyright IAAF 2016

 

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